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York Glaziers Trust is the oldest and largest specialist stained glass conservation studio in Britain. YGT is a charitable trust dedicated to the care and conservation of historic stained glass in York Minster and throughout the UK. Discover more
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Halfway Through the York Minster Apocalypse17 September 2012
The YGT team has now completed the conservation of half of the panels in the stunning medieval window depicting the story of the Apocalypse.
York Minster's Great East Window contains the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in Britain, and was designed by one of the stained glass master John Thornton of Coventry. Started in 1405 and completed in 1408, the main part of the window depicts the Apocalypse, and is recognised around the world as being some of the finest medieval stained glass still in existence. The restoration of half of the Apocalypse panels is now complete and the extraordinary quality of the window is re-emerging for the a new generation.
"This is a significant landmark in the restoration project, as each of the 108 panels require painstaking research, documentation, examination, conservation and repair of the many thousands of components that make up this incredible glass masterpiece," says Sarah Brown, Director of York Glaziers Trust. "Each panel is a work of art in its own right, each piece painted with the skills of a Van Eyck or a Vermeer, with an amazing delicacy that can now be fully appreciated as we look at the panels up close."
The window is being restored as part of the five year York Minster Revealed project, generously supported by a £10.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), due for completion in 2016. However, visitors to York Minster will not have to wait until 2016 to see some of the completed restoration work, as a number of the panels will go on display later this year when a new state-of-the-art exhibition space, known as The Orb, is installed in York Minster's East End.
It is envisaged that the new exhibition will give visitors a better understanding of the artistry that went into creating hundreds of stained glass masterpieces that are on display in York Minster.
"The scale of the building, and the abundance of beautiful stained glass in it can often mean that it becomes somewhat overwhelming - there is such a huge amount of glass to look at, and the scale is so great, it is not until you take some time to look at some of the individual windows that you begin to appreciate these great works of art," comments Canon Glyn Webster, Acting Dean of York. "These windows are so much more than mosaics of coloured glass, as each piece is diligently hand painted as part of a much larger design to create a beautiful image that changes as daylight filters through it."
The window's artist, John Thornton, was invited to York from his native Coventry to complete one of the fifteenth-century's most prestigious commissions in a city already famed for the skill of its glaziers.
York Minster holds a copy of the contract by which John Thornton was commissioned to undertake the work, which is the only document linking him to a specific window in existence. It required Thornton to do all of the 'cartooning' (full-scale design of the window) of the window's 311 panels himself, and also to do some of the painting 'with his own hand', although with a project of this size, he would have had a team of artists working under his direction.
Visitors to York Minster can see a nearly life-size replica of the window hanging in its place at the moment, and watch conservators of the York Glaziers Trust at work on tours of the Bedern Glaziers Studio each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2.00pm. Tours can be prebooked online at www.yorkminster.org and cost £7.50 per person.
For more information, please visit www.yorkminster.org
Notes to editors (not for publication):
York Minster's Orb is a large contemporary metallic dome that will be located within the East End of York Minster as a unique interactive exhibition space for some of the restored panels from the Great East Window. It will remain open for three years, with one of the panels being changed each month to allow visitors to see the workmanship up close, before they are reinstalled in the window itself - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get close to these individual masterpieces which aims to challenge the history of art itself.
A media launch and preview will take place during the week of 15 October. If you would like to reserve a place on the preview tour, please contact Jay Commins on 0113 251 5698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Orb at York Minster will open to the public on 29 October 2012.
Until October, there will be opportunities to see the Orb being constructed and installed, and the glaziers' continuing restoration work. For more information, please contact Jay Commins.
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 30,000 projects, allocating £4.6billion across the UK. Website: www.hlf.org.uk
About the York Glaziers Trust
Founded in 1967, the York Glaziers Trust is the largest and longest established specialist stained glass conservation studio in the United Kingdom. See www.yorkglazierstrust.org
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YGT and York Minster's Great East Window featured in Dalesman magazine. Click here